Quit for COVID call to Kent Smokers

Date added: 29 May 2020

SMOKERS in Kent are being urged to quit to reduce the risks of severe symptoms if they get COVID-19.

Around 15% of people in Kent are smokers, and now health experts from One You Kent are joining calls from Public Health England and the Chief Medical Officer for people smoking to help protect themselves and others by quitting smoking.

Kent County Council which commissions the One You Kent smokefree service through Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust, is backing the #QuitforCovid campaign which was initially developed by a GP and is now being supported by the Smokefree Action Coalition led by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). The Association of Directors of Public Health is also encouraging smokers to quit.

Smoking tobacco damages the lungs, weakens the immune system and causes a range of severe respiratory problems. Evidence so far suggests people who smoke may be at increased risk of severe disease if they get COVID-19.

KCC Director of Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark said: “This is a worrying time for all of us and we are all conscious of the need to protect ourselves, to protect others. Quitting smoking is a very good way to reduce the chances you’ll need to go to hospital.

“We are supporting the #QuitforCovid campaign through our One You Kent services www.oneyoukent.org.uk as there has never been a more important time to quit smoking than right now. It is never too late to see health benefits of quitting smoking and you're never too old to quit.”

Anne Ford, Clinical Services Manager from KCHFT said: “We understand that quitting smoking can be difficult. Many smokers try several times before they succeed, but getting the right support and using stop smoking aids to help ease the cravings gives you a much better chance of success. With the right support, you can do it.”

Ruth Tennant, Tobacco lead for the Association of Directors of Public Health, said: “There are so many reasons to quit smoking but never a more important time than right now during the coronavirus pandemic. Emerging evidence suggests that smoking puts people more at risk from severe complications from COVID-19, and the ADPH is now supporting efforts to encourage smokers to quit for COVID."

As well as reducing the risks from complications from coronavirus, quitting smoking quickly improves your circulation and your breathing. It also reduces the risks of other health problems such as heart attacks and strokes at a time when the NHS is coming under strain.

Ian Vousden, Programme Director for the Kent and Medway Cancer Alliance, said: “We are pleased to back this campaign because we know smoking is linked to at least 15 different types of cancer, including bowel, bladder and the most obvious one being lung cancer. The symptoms of both coronavirus and lung cancer are similar and we would urge anyone with a persistent cough to contact their GP. Smoking remains the biggest cause of preventable death in the UK and stopping smoking at any age increases life expectancy."

In the longer term, quitting is also linked to reduced depression, anxiety, and stress and improved positive mood and quality of life compared with continuing to smoke.

Find out more about a range of tools, tips and local support services that can help you at www.oneyoukent.org.uk

Alternatively, ring 0300 123 1220 or text ‘QUIT’ to 87023. You can also find more information at www.kenthealthandwellbeing.nhs.uk

For national support, advice and free tools to quit smoking visit https://www.nhs.uk/smokefree or visit https://www.todayistheday.co.uk/

For more information on COVID-19 visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ or https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response